As previously stated; one might encounter complex design situations in engineering scenarios. Earlier, designs were drawn on sheets with pen and necessary scaling instruments and manufactured manually using old school techniques. But now, with the advent of CAD customization, the entire work-process has become easier and smoother than ever.
When CAD customization is integrated in CAD software application, a number of advantages occur. With CAD customization, the production of a drawing and design of a mechanical component can be generated with great accuracy. This facilitates the engineers to have tools to make quick modifications to any issues found in the design. The design can be customized according to the needs outlined before or after the CAD design is generated.
Need for CAD Customization
- Implementing a functionality that does not exist in the OOTB package: The activity of CAD customization is carried out when a particular organization needs tailor made CAD software to address their need. It might be a separate functionality that a specific task needs or it might be about a format.
- Repetitive tasks can be done in a single click: Working on a product using CAD software can involves repetitive actions. This often ends up consuming a lot of time. Although, most CAD software provides generic features, one can have it customized for specific functions that repeat more like a loop.
- Checklist for inspection can be customized: You can reinvent the way you conduct by creating smart inspection templates. This aids in streamlining the quality and documentation processes even more.
- Wizards can be created for guiding the use through the complete workflow: Wizards are used to properly set something up. In some cases, wizards are used for setting up all tool-path and drilling operations within the CAD-CAM system. CAD customization can setup automated wizards for carrying out repetitive tasks and regression testing without having to put in extra emphasis and time on those, thus completing a workflow without human intervention.
- Big time saving impact: Companies have the capability to automate design, process, and systems integration when customizing CAD software. With customization of CAD functions, companies automate redundant tasks and experience great time savings.
- Core focus on product development: CAD customization allows engineers to keep their prime focus on product development without having to worry about support functions.
- CAD Customization effect on digital thread: CAD customization and automation of CAD software propels advancement in areas such as the digital thread.
Challenges with CAD customization
Like every other entity out there, CAD customization comes with its own drawback. One big challenge with CAD customization is keeping it in sync with the latest technology in the market. Also, every CAD software is gets its new releases so it becomes quite hectic to keep a check and customizing accordingly. We have learned before how add-ons/plug-ins has been introduced to add new features to CAD software. Such add-ons are also prone to updates which need to be worked upon to make it compatible with customized software. Modern technology, however, is working its way towards making the process of updating and customizing a more lenient process.
There is no doubt computer-aided design or CAD software has changed the game of manufacturing altogether. Manufacturing industry has been using CAD software for sometimes now. These are the times when engineering departments, R&D centres & Design departments use Computer-Aided design (CAD) to ease up the product development process, thereby reducing the entire cycle time. CAD software makes our working fast, efficient & accurate.
While CAD software comes with its own offering of general tools, it is a bit hard to fathom what each individual user may find useful to accomplish very specific tasks. Such limitations have pushed the minds of developers of the CAD systems to come up with the capability of customizing their software to cater to the needs. With customization, it is possible to modify or create new tools that are better suited to our needs. One of the great improvements we can get with customization is to replace a series of commands with a single tool that accomplishes the task.
CAD customization is the activity of creating specific enhancements or tools to support CAD software.
As name suggests, CAD customization means customizing or configuring OOTB (out of the box) CAD software to suit the specific needs of a particular organization.
CAD customization predominantly involves developing supporting tools for CAD software. It is mostly customised which means it is suited to a clients particular requirements. CAD software built en-masse might not satisfy the needs of every requirement, as many organizations have their own specific criteria. That is when customizing CAD software comes into play. Customizing existing CAD software is perhaps the fastest and most economic way of getting the work done.
Steps for Creating a Customization
Before developing customized CAD software, make some preparations as follows:
- Try your hands on a few simple drawings; follow a tutorial to see how the commands work.
- Understand the kind of work the user does, identify the issues he is facing, ask for features the user would like to have.
- Examine the available customization tools and find the most effective way to get the job done.
- An deep understanding of the function library is an absolutely necessary condition for customization.
- Use Software Engineering methods to plan the development of the customized system.
How CAD Customization is done
Most CAD systems provide the following two mechanisms
- Record-Edit-Play of a macro or VB code
VBA stands for Visual Basic Applications, which is an event driven programming language by Microsoft. It also allows integration with other applications that use VBA. The implementation of VBA in CAD customization is easy to learn and use. Developers can create application prototypes and receive feedback on designs quickly. VBA provides an extremely efficient way for manipulating CAD objects and exchanging data with other applications.
- Develop an Add-On using Open APIs or toolkits
Another method for customizing CAD software is by developing add-ons using open source API’s and toolkits. One can develop API implementations by using a developer toolkit. Nowadays, many API’s come as open source which makes the whole operation a lot smoother. API’s can be fabricated as per the requirements and can be applied as an added feature. One important factor is that, the API must be compatible with the said CAD software.
Benefits of CAD Customization
Customization of CAD software has indeed introduced us to many benefits which are as follows:
- Access to a functionality that does not exist in the OOTB package
- Improving the efficiency of the team by providing tools for faster development
- Reducing the manual error in performing many tasks
- Reducing the skill requirement of the operator (A wizard for a process can allow a user with relatively less experience to complete the tasks)
- Capture and protect the proprietary domain knowledge in a custom command/wizard
- By applying time saving automation, it increases productivity
- Reduces workload by huge proportions eliminating tedious tasks, data entries, and numerous repetitive steps.
- The usage of custom made algorithms helps in reducing errors
- Customization is a great mean to integrate a software with latest technologies